Q & A with Head Girl Maggie

What is your favourite memory of York House School?
Having written and rewritten many attempts to describe my favourite memory of my time at YHS, each a different story with a different lesson, I truly cannot choose only a single moment of all the incredible memories I have made in the past five years as a favourite. For this reason, I am so grateful for YHS, as this is a demonstration of the vast number of experiences, friendships, and opportunities that have been offered to me over the course of high school. I’ve performed on stage, competed on the field, learned in the classroom, explored the great outdoors, and travelled to other countries all thanks to the YHS philosophy of a well-rounded education. I am so lucky to have had all of these experiences that make choosing only one as a favourite a seemingly impossible task.

Who at York House has influenced you the most and why?
There is no doubt in my mind that the course, and thus the teacher, that I was most influenced by was my English 10 class taught by Mr. Robertson. Each day, my thoughts and values were questioned, forcing me to reflect on my own identity and that of those around me. Mr. Rob led discussions that allowed his students to converse and connect on a level that I have not seen replicated in any other classroom, and I am forever grateful for the privilege of experiencing these lessons.

Why did you want to be Head Girl?
I had always looked up to the Head Girls at YHS, but I never envisioned myself taking on the role. The fact that five years later I was confident enough to put my name into the election is a testament to the ability of YHS to empower their students to take on opportunities that they once believed were beyond their abilities, but come to realize are achievable. Ultimately, I wanted to be Head Girl for an opportunity to better the school, whether that be the fostering of community in all elements of the school, creating new initiatives to represent the desires and goals of the student body, or organizing events to engage and connect the student body.

What did you learn from being Head Girl?
Through every speech, every assembly, and every meeting as Head Girl I have been taught a multitude of lessons. Some were as simple as the importance of a firm handshake, but others have significantly impacted how I view and practice leadership. First and foremost, this past year has shown me that actions define leaders, not titles. The greatest challenge, and thus the greatest lesson, of my role was living up to the title of Head Girl to which I was elected through meaningful dialogue, action, and connections. The experience of being Head Girl redefined my definition of leadership from being driven by a title, to being driven by the people whom you lead.

What are some of the accomplishments of the Student Exec this year that you are most proud of?
Our student executive set many goals for this school year, most of which we are proud to say we have achieved. However, the greatest goal we decided to pursue last September was to set a tone for the senior school in which every student felt heard, valued, and excited to come to school. We hoped to foster the already incredible York House community to reach more students at a greater level. The degree to which we succeeded in this goal is hard to quantify because it is more of a feeling, but I truly think the twelve girls that comprised this year’s student executive put great effort and thought into making that goal a reality for as many Yorkies as possible.

What words of advice do you have for the incoming Head Girl?
To the incoming Head Girl, I would say to take advantage all of the opportunities that come her way in the upcoming year. She will have the chance to meet inspiring people, attend incredible events, and learn valuable lessons, all of which should be appreciated. She has earned an amazing opportunity, and now it is up to her to optimize her experience not only for her own growth, but that of the school and student body.

As your time at York House comes to an end, what are you looking forward to the most?
Although these last few months of many ‘lasts’ have been bittersweet, there is so much to look forward to after graduation. The prospect that excites me the most about the future, yet is simultaneously the most daunting, is jetting off across the country to Ontario for university. The opportunity to discover a new city, new people, new curriculum, and maybe a peek at independence and adulthood is very exciting.

What are your plans for the fall?
In the fall I will be heading to Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario to study in the Faculty of Arts and Science.

Read the Q & A with Vice-Head Girl Kira here.

Category: Senior School
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Q & A with Vice-Head Girl Kira

What is your favourite memory of York House School?
After 13 years here, to pinpoint a single memory as the favourite seems an impossible task. That said, one sticks out in my mind as particularly suitable to the question for having encompassed, perhaps better than any other, the many preceding it. Towards the end of one of our chemistry classes this year, our class went on a walk around the school grounds to the junior side – a venture I must admit I have had little impetus to embark on in my high school years. During this rare excursion, I recalled how as a junior track athlete I had once “sprinted” down the track along which we now strolled, rustled through the wood chips which had, invariably and conspicuously, gotten stuck in my white socks (to my mother’s chagrin). Upon arrival at the playground, my now young “adult” friends and I readily resumed the positions on the monkey bars we had abandoned a decade earlier. The moment was one of my most tangible personal experiences of the tension between “continuity and change”, a concept heavily emphasized in high school social studies classes. In those 15 minutes or so, I simultaneously reconnected with the concerns of the self who had last hung on those monkey bars, and appreciated the extent to which York House has figured in enabling me to tackle those concerns, while allowing for some new ones to naturally take over.

Who at York House has influenced you the most and why?
While high school was a time of substantial personal growth for me as for anyone, the most transformative period I recall of my time at York House occurred much earlier in my years here. Specifically, the Grade 2 classroom was the place in which I first found a formidable sense not only of my own individual potential to contribute, but of my own belonging within the classroom, and my ability to connect with my peers. I owe many thanks for this development to my teacher at the time, Ms. Grills (who has since moved to Australia). Ms. Grills created an environment of imagination, inclusiveness, and collaboration in her classroom, in which every student was granted their moments in the spotlight, whether they recognized it as such or not. Not only did her approach compel my once unspeaking seven-year-old self to become an active class participant, but it provided me with some of the most poignant, happy memories of my elementary years.

Why did you want to be Vice-Head Girl?
Throughout my high school years, the capacity of the Student Executive to shape the experiences of students throughout the school – whether through official responsibilities, direct support or through the less concrete, but equally impactful, tone it sets – has been ever apparent to me. As Class President from Grades 9 through 11, I became better acquainted with the specific roles of each Student Executive member, and found the role of Vice-Head Girl particularly well suited to both my skills and interests: as an intermediary between staff and students, an organizer, a leader of the Student Executive, and a support for the Head Girl.

What did you learn from being Vice-Head Girl?
To avoid a multi-page list of life lessons garnered over this past year, I’ll simply name one: the irrelevance of an exec title to acting as an impactful student leader. Certainly, the Student Executive takes on valuable and unique responsibilities within the school and has an automatic platform for initiative. However, the most meaningful impacts I believe I have had as a student leader have been through everyday kindnesses, expressing an interest in the lives of others, particularly younger students, and the positivity which I have endeavoured to bring to my interactions with all members of the YHS community. While I was no doubt propelled to emulate such ideals by an understanding of my exec role, these actions are not ones restricted to holders of any formal title, and they are ones which I will continue to live by in the future.

What are some of the accomplishments of the Student Exec this year that you are most proud of?
In keeping with my last answer, the Student Executive accomplishments I hold in highest regard transcend the tangible “tick-marks” of planning events, running community activities or coordinating the “all-important” exec videos. Instead, I see our greatest accomplishments in the friendly atmosphere we worked to establish within the school, the resulting connections formed between students across grades, and the relaxed and intimate atmosphere I felt we established at many school-wide events. Further, I take great pride not merely in the outward effect our Student Executive had this year, but in the fact that I believe we remained fundamentally honest throughout the process – willing to be openly less than perfect, while never (or at least rarely) anything short of committed to delivering our best, combined efforts.

What words of advice do you have for the incoming Vice-Head Girl?
As a role of both support and leadership, I believe the Vice Head Girl’s most meaningful work is done in offering this support – whether for the Head Girl, exec partners, staff or student body – when it is not asked of you. Actively seek opportunities to assist your exec team, staff and students where you think it potentially beneficial, and show yourself to be an approachable, supportive resource throughout the community.

As your time at York House comes to an end, what are you looking forward to the most?
Naturally, I think one fear many of us grapple with as we embark on our post-high school lives is facing the discomfort and uncertainty that comes with new, less enclosed environments. As much as I share this sentiment, after thirteen years in a tight-knit, supportive environment, I am excited for this discomfort, and the challenges it brings. I am looking forward to demonstrating that the aspects of the student, friend, and leader I am proud to have grown into at York House can extend beyond the school’s walls, if I am dedicated enough to having them do so.

What are your plans for the fall?
I am looking forward to entering the Science One Program at UBC in September.

Read the Q & A with Head Girl Maggie here.

 

Category: Senior School
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